New documentary “Big Time” is a sleek and gorgeous glance at the architecture of rising star Bjarke Ingels, but looks away much too quickly.Bjarke Ingels’ meteoric rise has been nothing short of stunning, especially in regards to his stateside establishment which has called for mind-numbing budgets and carte-blanche rights to building fantastic structures. And now, with multiple towers going up around the United States at a feverish pace, a new film offers a glimpse into the cozy cool and distinctly enthusiastic drama of Bjarke Ingels, the Danish architectural phenom. The documentary follows Bjarke personally as he deals with the game of compromise that is the essence of architecture. Harassingly sleek and almost arrogantly subdued, the drama rarely bubbles over a too-long glance or a forlorn pout.
Ingels’ structures earn their “wow” factor from how needlessly intense they are – there is nothing particularly remarkable about them and they certainly have no personality – they are collages of meaningless approach: marketed as round-about conceptual experiments that are “youthful” and “playful” but humiliating to actually inhabit and be around. They’re executed as any other building would be- outfit with middling finishes and largely unsatisfying spaces. Like Hirst, maybe Ingels knows better. Regarding his architecture, the self-imposed abstinence from “style” may be the side effect of Ingels being thoroughly Danish, and the forlorn energy may be par for his heritage. For example, in the film, Bjarke laments -perhaps unintentionally- the very concept of “untimely death”. To the especially thoughtful viewer, it may seem to double as a Freudian address of his own fragile celebrity. Bjarke suddenly exposing, like his buildings, an unremarkable interior.
Kaspar Astrup Schroder allows the game to play and we learn nothing about Bjarke and even less about his thought process. Though, admittedly, pulling that string might make the whole tower fall down. A far more involved documentary could have elaborated on a point Bjarke brushed upon while he mourned past architects: the very idea of the celebrity architect- the feelings evoked when you step inside a building knowing who built it- whether a mix of clever marketing and manufactured legacy, it’s an approach that would elicit a little more emotional and thought, no matter how surface level.